As many of my long time blog readers will know and anyone who has been unfortunate enough to ask, I am very passionate about the West Memphis Three Case. For those of you how don't know, these three young boys were convicted of murdering three 8 year old boys in Arkansas. The main piece of evidence was a confession taken from a young boy unrepresented after 12 hours of interrogation in which he supplied information that was not even close to what happened. There is a gap in the taping and after that you hear Jessie being lead through the testimony and police correcting him until they get the "right" info.
I learned about this case in an intro to policing class when we talked about false confessions (or maybe it was criminal law I forget) but I was so intrigued by the facts presented in class I had to go and read more. I spent HOURS and HOURS over many days pouring over the public records and reading the "evidence" against the boys. I was shocked and dismayed that such a horrible thing could be done and that these three boys could be convicted because they wore black clothing and listened to "satanic" music. I read every book I could find and watched both HBO Documentaries.
Over the last ten years, I have attended fundraisers, purchased items online to donate and tried to educate as many people as I could about this case. I have prayed for justice and was elated when new DNA evidence exonerated the three and actually pointed towards one of the young boys step fathers and his alibi! I could only imagine how long each day felt for Jason, Jessie and Damien as they could see the light getting bigger at the end of the tunnel, but were stuck in a system that would have to look back on itself and admit its own flaws to do the right thing. A new judge was appointed (THANK GOD!!!) and the wheels were starting to move.
Just a few weeks ago I received and invitation to be at the evidentiary hearing to show support in Arkansas in December. I knew I would not be able to go but I was praying and hoping that it would go well. This is what the fundraising and prayers had been working up too!
I have been at camp (blog to come about that later!) and this morning i saw the amazing news....while I was away they had called for a quick meeting and the men were offered an "Alford" plea, basically a no-contest plea where you do not admit guilt and can maintain your innocence but it is marked down as a guilty plea. This was an all or nothing deal and from watching the press conferences I can see that it was a very very very difficult decision to make. At the end of the plea each man declared his innocence and for the first time in 17 years they left the courthouse as free men. Finally after all these years....
THE WEST MEMPHIS THREE
There is still a long road ahead, as these men who have been locked up for more than half of their lives try to find their place and figure out who they are. These men also want to see the true killer (or killers) brought to justice and their names truly cleared. If you want to learn more about this case please visit www.wm3.org and read up on the case. If your as enthusiastic as I was the evidentiary archives are there as well.